How much do you know about asthma?

Posted on May 24, 2017 by kerri
Image from i2clipart

Most people know someone with asthma—or a few people with asthma—if they don’t have it themselves. Asthma affects 1 in 12 Americans—a 2009 statistic that has increased from 1 in 14 in 2001 [1]. This number was 1 in 13 in 2015. [2] Asthma is a common condition, and per the statistics on the rise, but that doesn’t mean that it is not misunderstood! Most people know that asthma is a problem that can affect a person’s breathing. Here are some facts about asthma that you might not know:

  • Asthma causes coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Wheezing is thought to be the most common asthma symptom, but in reality, coughing is!
  • Asthma affects more boys than girls prior to puberty, and after puberty, more girls/women are affected than boys/men. This is thought to be due to the effects of female hormones on inflammation.
  • Asthma can be diagnosed at any age.
  • While it is commonly thought that you can “grow out of” asthma, it’s not actually true. People with asthma can have symptoms go “dormant” (or be non-existent) for years—sometimes, these will come back. It’s always best to be prepared and have an inhaler on hand just in case.
  • Over 15% of adults with asthma have occupational asthma, which means their asthma is related to chemicals or substances at work—this can include baker’s asthma, triggered by flours and grains used in the profession of baking. [1]
  • Asthma rates are higher in those who are obese, due to the increased work of breathing with extra pressure (weight) agains the chest wall and abdomen, causing more effort to be exerted by the diaphragm which sits beneath the lungs and controls breathing. Excess body fat may also cause the person to take smaller and more frequent breaths, increasing airway irritation, and that chemicals in the body produced by body fat may cause a greater level of inflammation in the body, which also can include lung inflammation. [3]
  • Over 70% of asthmatics also have allergies—often asthma and allergies, or asthma, allergies and eczema go hand in hand, but there are some asthmatics who do not have an allergic component to their asthma. [1] Those diagnosed in adulthood are more likely to have non-allergic asthma.
  • Somewhere between 70 and 90% of people with asthma have symptoms triggered by exercise. Sometimes, exercise may be the only asthma trigger a person experiences. This is not a reason to avoid exercise, as with treatment, such as using an inhaler before exercise, symptoms can be avoided.
  • Asthma statistics vary with race in the United States due to disparities in access to health care and other services [2] :
    • Puerto Ricans have an 80% greater chance of developing asthma than whites do
    • African Americans are 3 times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma, and have a 330% higher rate of emergency department visits.
    • African Americans are 3 times more likely to die from asthma
    • 3 million Hispanics in the US have asthma, this disproportionately high rate is thought to be attributed to environmental factors related to poverty [4]
  • Asthma is treatable, often deaths from asthma are preventable, but there is no cure.
I am one of the millions of people worldwide who lives with asthma. Since my diagnosis, I have chosen to wear an asthma medical ID bracelet to ensure my medical needs are known in case of an emergency that leaves me unable to communicate for myself. Fortunately, my asthma has been relatively well controlled in recent years, and I have never needed to visit the emergency room or hospital for my asthma, and I have never been in a situation where I have been completely unable to speak due to breathlessness. However, I feel safer knowing that my medical information is on my wrist—just in case. Many of my bracelets are from My Identity Doctor (I like to switch things up!) – check out our selection by visiting our online shop.

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